National Geographic : 1999 Oct
Families of 1-52, relatives of those lost on the sub. He gives them the shoe, along with two others, to place in a museum. In Japan the loss of the 1-52 is cold, sad history, but Tidwell's revelations are well received, for here, as in America, the sinking had at first been a secret. Notice of the death of Satonobu Gamo, the engineer who per ished in the sub, reached his wife a full year after he left home. In the U.S. the mission was heralded as the first coordinated kill of a submarine using sonobuoys and acoustic torpedoes. The Navy awarded both Taylor and Gordon the Distin guished Flying Cross for the action and used both of their wire-recordings to train pilots. But a preliminary analysis of Gordon's orig inal wire, conducted last March, suggested to experts at the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University that the explosive roar Gordon heard was the torpedo itself, self-destructing, and that the propeller sounds were not those of the 1-52 but actually those of the fleeing German submarine. Taylor's attack probably was enough. For Paul Tidwell the hunt goes on, despite the project's wake of unpaid bills and stranded investors. "I've been talking to the Japanese government and several major Japanese corpo rations," he tells me. "We're forming a consor tium of companies. We may cut away the conning tower and bring it up." Gold is still the lure, of course. Delivering it was the mission of the 1944 voyage, recovering it the goal of the 1998 expedition. But salvage will be an enormous undertaking, perhaps more costly than the potential payoff. The gold is there but teasingly beyond reach, beyond the four inch-thick acrylic of the Mir porthole, beyond bone-crushing water pressure, beyond two layers of steel plate. Still no closer than the end of the rainbow. O[ Ceremonies honored the dead of the 1-52 both above and below the waterline. On one Mir dive Tidwell had a Japanese naval ensign attached to the submarine. Several months later he journeyed to Japan to meet the families of the men who perished. In a brief observance at a memorial to lost submariners in Kure, Japan (left), he presented grieving relatives with three shoes-the only personal effects his expedition recovered.